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What to look for in a dirtbike trailer?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Surly, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. Surly

    Surly surly adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
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    2,137
    Location:
    Salem, OR
    The neighbors dont like me riding in the back yard so I gotta go 50+ miles towing thumpers with my Honda Element. Problem is I don't have a trailer.
    These are my requirements so far
    • Haul two (maybe three?) thumpers.
    • Towable with a Honda element or if I am desperate an STi

    I see some steel ones folks use for lawn equipment. I think that might be overkill and heavy. I have also seen a small flatbed local for 250. I thought I could put some of those wheel chocks on it for the front tires.

    I don't really know anything about trailers...

    What do you guys use?
    What should I look out for?

    Thanks for your help
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    70,323
    Not in Thumpers, moved to Equipment. :thumb
    #2
  3. 93-610

    93-610 I'm a tard

    Joined:
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    50 miles is a pretty good haul - look for something with car size tires (13/14/15") - the little tires (6/8/12") don't like going that far at any reasonable speed. With the bigger tires come better bearings, springs, etc.
    Spend a couple extra bucks for a better trailer - it'll be money well spent as opposed to sitting on the side of the road admiring you broken, bargin trailer. :huh Whatever you chose, be sure to outfit it with something to hold the bike's front wheel securely in place & good quality tie downs - no fun leaving with 3 and arriving with two :cry

    Good luck :D


    .
    #3
  4. KTMSprocket

    KTMSprocket Skill Required Here

    Joined:
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    After a few years of taking my son's race bikes to events OR taking my own to some distant places for fun....it boiled down to this....

    I was so pissed off with packing and unpacking parts, clothes, tools and blah blah from my vehicle each time....I bought myself an enclosed trailer that carries three bikes and all the tools and equipment I ever need. Everything lives in there permanantly....I am not joking whenn I say I have saved about 3 to 4 hours (AT LEAST) per trip.

    Bikes can fall off or be stolen more easily from open trailers too.
    #4
  5. greenlizard

    greenlizard adventure lite

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
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    Location:
    Chapin, SC
    Never had an enclosed trailer. I can see the benefits in a race setup, though. Pretty cool.

    I now have a 4 x 8 utility trailer with 8 inch wheels. The good - low bed height, easy to load heavy bikes, inexpensive tires, light weight.
    The bad - small tires spin pretty fast, although I service the bearings every couple of years or so and have not had a problem in 20 years - same bearings. Also, small wheels ride rougher than bigger ones simply because they do not span holes as well as larger tires would.

    If you want a dedicated m/c trailer, the railed bike trailers are easiest and lightest to use, however I find a utility trailer is good enough and can be used for hauling other junk when needed.

    A four foot wide trailer with sides will allow two bikes. A five foot wide model can fit a third bike in backwards.

    You are in the "find stuff" capitol of the free world, greater Atlanta. Hunt around for a bit and you'll find a good one at a bargain price. Check the bearings - cheap insurance. Good luck.
    #5
  6. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    + 1 on an enclosed trailer if you have room for it. If not, look for a Kendon 2 rail that stands up in your garage. A few of my friends have them and have been very happy.

    http://www.kendonusa.com/dual_trailer.htm
    #6
  7. CO2

    CO2 n00b

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    :webers
    Great information here.
    Has anyone ever used their personal compact car to haul a Thumper?
    More to the point, is that an unintelligent thing to do?
    I've got a Honda Civic (great gas mileage) and was wanting to put a trailer behind it with my spankin' new DR650...
    Please alert me if I'm about to lose my shiny motorcycle on the freeway!

    Thank ya'll :kurt
    #7
  8. markar

    markar Been here awhile

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    I've hauled my DR350 and an XR650 (not at the the same time) from OKC to AR, NM, Big Bend, TX and a few other places on a folding 12" wheel Harbor Freight trailer behind a 98 Honda Civic. On the flats, it's no problem holding 75, doesn't take much of a grade to slow things down though. Not too bad but you can't stay in 5th! No problems with handling or braking.

    One thing I did notice is that it doesn't take much additional weight to make a difference in effective towing power...like a passenger. :D Just figured up that I've towed that thing approximately 8000 miles with no issues, just don't plan on climbing any mountains in 5th! Gas mileage runs about 27-29 MPG but I haven't kept track in all conditions.

    Since the OP asked about an Element, I've pulled the same trailer and bike with our 2007 Element and you don't even know it's back there and that's including a weeks worth of camping gear and other vacation junk for the family.
    #8
  9. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer Supporter

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    I have looked at these at a local shop and they look like the best bike trailers I have seen for smaller vehicles. The first one only weighs 500 pounds, stands upright, has decent sized tires and it has torsion axles. The two bike trailer in the second pic only weighs 40 pounds more and looks like the best bet. But they aren't cheap.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    All of the that line of trailers are here:

    http://www.trucknamerica.com/mc10_mc210_mct.htm
    #9
  10. hppyfngy

    hppyfngy not dead yet

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    Your honda won't have any problems assuming you get a proper hitch installed. Like others say, I like a utility trailer for versatility and other uses and I much prefer 14 or 15" tires. Good tie down points and get that front wheel locked in place and you'll be fine.

    Just don't forget the trailer's back there and take it easy...:norton
    #10
  11. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    Where I need to be.

    I'm one of them. :D
    #11
  12. Tinfish

    Tinfish Long timer

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    Seattle
    I've pulled a small aluminum trailer, with one bike on it, with my Subaru Forester. It pulled just fine -- the car is rated for 2000# towing; I think the trailer and bike weighed about 800 pounds, give or take.

    I'm pretty sure Civics are not rated for towing at all -- that doesn't mean that you can't tow with it, just that Honda is not going to tell you that it is a good idea.

    With a small car, I think it is really important to keep the towed weight as low as possible. A really lightweight trailer (aluminum, or a one- or two-rail trailer) will be a lot safer behind a small car than a heavy steel trailer.

    Edit: I missed that it was an Element, not a Civic. I think the Elements are rated for 2000 pounds or so, which is more than enough to pull a couple of dirtbikes.
    #12
  13. Surly

    Surly surly adventurer

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    Salem, OR
    Thanks for the replies folks!

    I do like the idea of an enclosed trailer. I think they make them here local starting at 1500 though Id probably need something a little bigger which would cost more.

    I like the idea of the ones that stand up. You sure pay for that option but I move every year or two and right now I'd either have to take up a spot in my garage or put in the driveway. Anyway that's a good option for me. With the Element I have tons of room for gear so I can keep that gear safe from thieving bastards.

    I am going to look into the stand ups with at least 13" tires
    #13
  14. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    Can you see the trailer in this picture? There's four bikes, a truck and a trailer in a two-car garage.

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    I like KTMs, but did I hear right? The Defender went away in a trade for the orange bike?
    #15
  16. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    You did, but it was a 1970 Series IIa, not a Defender. :D
    #16
  17. 93-610

    93-610 I'm a tard

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    Go for the enclosed trailer - pulled by the Element - kinda like a phone booth pulling a fridge :wink:
    #17
  18. Howard70

    Howard70 Been here awhile

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    I like the versatility of a trailer that can be used for hauling anything as well as bikes. I also agree with the previous comments about aluminum trailers being great - the wear and tear on your tow vehicle is a function of the total weight (trailer plus load). Assuming the weight of your load is fixed, you can save your vehicle by getting the lightest trailer that carries the most load - thus aluminum.

    That is also why I don't use an enclosed trailer to carry bikes - the wind resistance of a 5 to 6 foot tall enclosed trailer is several times greater than an open trailer. While wind resistance doesn't affect tongue weight (the static load of the trailer attached to your vehicle) it is a great component of the dynamic load - the force the trailer exerts when driving down the road. If you're towing with a 1/2 ton or larger truck with a real towing package (suspension, trans cooler, etc.) then it wouldn't matter, but it sounds like you're going to be using a great vehicle (the Element) that isn't a dedicated tower, so I would reduce as much weight and resistance as possible - without going to wheels smaller than 13" (preferably 14").

    I recently went through all of this and ended up with the following trailer-

    8ft x 5 1/4 ft Flatbed Aluma 638 Utility Trailer (http://www.alumaklm.com/638_utility_trailer.html) with the following upgrades:

    Bifolding Tailgate (further cuts wind resistance)
    14" Aluminum wheels (I raised the trailer 1.5" over the axle to increase tire clearance)
    Removable Aluminum stake sides (don't use for bikes, but helps when hauling other stuff)
    14" Aluminum spare mounted on tongue

    I then added some three aftermarket front wheel chocks, but if I was doing it again I would use the Aluma removable chocks; various tie downs for straps, cans & gear, and a light weight tongue jack.

    The trailer weighs 345 lbs yet is rated to carry 2,000 pounds. I don't feel it towing bikes and loaded it decreases the gas mileage by less than 10%.

    The only thing I wish was different was the torsion suspension. It is a simple system that works well when loaded above 1/2 capacity, but when lightly loaded the lack of shock absorbers causes a lot of vibration on the trailer which can cause fasteners to loosen. I solve that by using Locktite everywhere on the trailer and keeping the tire pressure low when not loaded heavily. No problems once I learned those tricks.

    Attached is a photo of the trailer without the 1.5" lift, without the 14" wheels, and without the folding tail gate all done after this first trip.

    Howard L. Snell

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. GillaFunk

    GillaFunk I use profanities

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    #19
  20. NJ-GS

    NJ-GS Been here awhile

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    I have a Kendon double that I pull behind a CR-V. If I'm not mistaken, the CR-V and Element use the same frame and engine.

    Nice thing about the Kendon is that it folds up and stores in a corner of the garage.

    Be careful with too big a trailer. I think that an enclosed trailer loaded with a bike or two would really be pushing the limits of a CR-V or an Element. They're not not really intended to be used as tow vehicles.

    The CR-V (and presumably, the Element) is only rated for a Class I hitch. Kendon recommends a minimum Class II hitch. However, the weight of the trailer plus one bike, a 1200GS, doesn't exceed the hitch's load capacities, so I think I'm OK. So far, so good, anyhow.
    #20